Sunshine Coast Health staff pledge to shatter mental health stigma

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Queensland Mental Health Week - 7-15 October 2023

Sunshine Coast Health is calling on residents to step up and play their part in ‘Shattering the Stigma’ around mental health.

The health service is launching the Shatter the Stigma campaign locally during Queensland Mental Health Week, which runs from Saturday 7 to Sunday 15 October.

Mental Health and Specialised Services General Manager Richard Spence-Thomas said it’s an important concept in ensuring both the physical and mental wellbeing of the population is focussed on.

“Everyone has the right to feel comfortable identifying, discussing, and seeking support for their mental health. Despite significant improvements in the perception of mental health in the community there is still stigma associated with living with mental illness,” Mr Spence-Thomas said.

“As long as mental health stigma remains, too many people will choose not to seek help and their health outcomes will suffer as a result.”

Mr Spence-Thomas said everybody can play a role in reducing stigma.

“It influences how we as a society feel, react, and speak about mental health. Words and actions build momentum for change. Using the right language when talking about mental health and alcohol and drug issues helps in building awareness and reducing stigma.”

Peer Support Worker Rob Stanley said he has seen the impact of stigma leading to some consumers feeling unnecessary shame or embarrassment around their experience.

“Once I have formed a rapport with a consumer who thinks this way, it’s fairly easy to put their mind at ease that what they are experiencing is not embarrassing or shameful, and we are here to help.”

As a Peer Support Worker, Rob draws on his own mental health experiences to provide a friendly and understanding space for mental health consumers.

“In 2018 I lost a finger on my left hand. As a guitarist, this was utterly devastating. My experience included several stays on the mental health wards at Nambour Hospital and SCUH during 2019 and 2020,” he explained.

Robert said his role in helping others has been instrumental in his recovery.

“It’s also provided me with a lived experience that helps many consumers understand that there is a way to recover and bounce back.”

He facilitates music and art therapy groups for the inpatient wards, and also provides support to people who want have a chat, share their experience or have questions about their mental health.